Don’t let the exotic name fool you—crispy polenta with mushroom sauce is a lot like grits with a mushroom cream sauce. Whether you decide to serve it as an appetizer or as an entrée, this recipe is rich with flavor and will leave you wanting more!
A word on substitutions—you can easily make a vegetarian version of this recipe by swapping the chicken stock for vegetable stock. We also used instant polenta for this recipe, but you can easily use the regular kind you have to cook—just follow the directions on the package.
Don’t have any Marsala wine on hand? Look for a dry red wine in your wine cabinet and voila, you’re ready to rock and roll! Choose any type of mushrooms you like in this dish—we went for cremini and button mushrooms because they’re cost effective and taste great!
Crispy Polenta with Mushroom Sauce Recipe
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- mushroom sauce
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large shallot, minced (about ¼ c)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Marsala wine, or dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp chives, fresh or dried, minced
- 1 tsp parsley, fresh or dried, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt, to taste
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. Meanwhile, butter a 9" x 9" casserole dish then set aside.
- When the water reaches a full boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Gradually add the polenta, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once all of the polenta has been incorporated, add the salt and garlic powder and continue whisking.
- Once the polenta begins to bubble, remove the pot from heat then add 2 Tbsp butter, stirring until the butter has melted and incorporated completely into the mixture. Add the Parmesan cheese then stir to combine. Pour the polenta into the prepared casserole dish then smooth the top into an even layer. Cover the polenta and refrigerate until it is completely set and can be cut into squares—about 1 hour.
- While the polenta is chilling, prepare the mushroom sauce. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat then add 2 Tbsp butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted and is no longer foamy, add the mushrooms in an even layer then allow them to become brown and crispy before stirring. Continue cooking the mushrooms for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until all of the mushrooms have taken on a golden color around the edges.
- Sprinkle the mushrooms with kosher salt then add in the shallot and garlic. Cook for another 5 mins, stirring frequently. Once the shallot and garlic have cooked for 5 mins, pour in the Marsala and cook until it has completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, then add the chives and parsley and stir to combine.
- Simmer the chicken stock in the mushroom mixture until it has reduced by about half, which will take about 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
- When the liquid has reduced by half, pour in the heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer once again then reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the mushroom sauce to bubble for about 2-3 mins to slightly thicken. Remove the sauce from heat then stir in 1 tbsp butter until it’s completely incorporated then set sauce aside.
- Remove polenta from the refrigerator and cut into squares. The polenta should be firm and easy to cut and handle, almost like a brownie. Remove the squares from the pan then set aside.
- In a separate skillet (a non-stick works best), heat 2 Tbsp unsalted butter over medium-high heat until melted. Fry the polenta squares in the butter for 3-4 mins on each side until they are golden and crispy.
- Transfer the crispy polenta squares to a plate and spoon generous amounts of the creamy mushroom sauce over the top and prepare to swoon. Enjoy!
If your polenta gets a little sticky when spreading it in the casserole dish, just add a little butter or water to the mixture.